2014 Minicon

Slide Show of the MiniCon,
Pictures by Marshall Abrams and David Arday

Minicon Overview: Layouts and Clinics

Minicon Contest and Display Room

Minicon Overview: Layouts and Clinics
by Marshall Abrams

Bill Demas conducted registration, assisted by Bob Berg. Bill provided the following description: Based on our receipts, a total of 61 NMRA members resisted the temptation to take advantage of the great weather on Saturday, May 31 and chose instead to attend the Division Minicon at St Matthew’s Methodist Church in Annandale, VA. This count does not include the members of the Potomac Module Crew (PMC), Northern Virginia NTRAK (NVNTRAK) and the several other volunteers, who are always unstinting in their support of this event.

Admission was $10 for attendees; spouses and children under 16 were free. Three attendees were Chesapeake Division members, and one, bless him, came up from James River. There were a few spouses and young folks in attendance as well, and they’re always welcome and their presence should be encouraged. To be honest, this is exactly the average turnout for this event, but I’m happy to say about a third were new faces and not just the same usual suspects. Several were surprised to find out that by dint of their membership in NMRA, they were MER and Potomac Division members by default, and did not have to go through a separate registration process.

Speaking of which, we attempt to make the registration process as smooth as possible, but suggestions for improvement are always welcome. Just let Bill know at wsdemas@verizon.net.

There were two modular layouts set up and running, NVNTRAK and PMC. Phil Scruggs provided commentary from the NVNTRAK perspective.  NVNTRAK [1, 2] had space for 18 modules in an 18’ X 22’ space. Late Friday afternoon, Ed Boland, Cotton Bowen, Jim Davis and Bob Yetter were able to set up 16 modules in about three hours. All of the connecting tracks were installed and all the extraneous material stowed. Saturday morning Jim Altobello and Mark Bowman arrived and slid the last two modules into place. With lots of hands installing the nine pieces of connecting track needed, the first train was running by 0800. Not bad work—actually pretty good work since trains ran smoothly the rest of the day.

The youngest engineer appeared to really enjoy herself at the PMC setup.  Stu Shef identified some of the PMC modules: The HO corner module featuring the Colorado Railroad Museum (with the operating 'Z' scale tourist loop around the lake belongs to Tim Barr.  The circus themed module belongs to Deborah Shef. The title of the module is "Carnivale" and, while incomplete (as of the Minicon), it will ultimately represent the HBO/Showtime series Carnivale set in the Midwest during the dustbowl period depression years. The other corner module featured in the photos is Stuart Shef's “Gilpin” module representing a variety of freelance scenes in and around the Gilpin mining area behind Central City and Blackhawk Colorado. The module contains HO standard gauge, HOn3, HO/HOn3 dual gauge, and HOn30 (representing the Gilpin 2 foot trackage).
The White Elephant Sale conducted by Clint Hyde and Jim Kinder was as popular as ever. Phil Scruggs and Dan Sweeney kept us well fed with coffee and donuts in the morning and sandwiches at lunch time.

The following eight Clinics entertained and informed the attendees. The clinic presentations and handouts (if any) are available on line.

Marshall Abrams—Introduction to Freight Car Forwarding Systems

This Clinic presents computer program used to generate freight traffic on their own railroads. Computer generated switchlists use tables of the cars on the layout, their type, and potential delivery locations. The system generates moves of appropriate cars to appropriate destinations, attempting to avoid repetitious activity. I will describe how I use the RailOp program. The presentation handout includes extensive web references.

Ronald Beavers—History of the Orange and Alexandria Railroad

The presentation covers the period 1847 to 1867 from the beginning of the O&A RR until it is merged with the Manassas Gap RR with the focus on how the O&A was used during the Civil War.

Martin Brechbiel—Filling in the Model Contest Forms

A major impediment to entering models into the contest rooms at both Divisional and Regional levels occurs when the modeler is confronted with "filling out the forms" or "the paperwork". That phase or participating in the AP is apparently attached to countless myths, hysteria, and horror stories. Martin present an overview and discuss how to fill out the forms for entering your models into the contest room for optimal success.

Brian Sheron, MMR—Details can make the Difference—Adding Details to Your Layout

The clinic focuses on the details that exist in real life, and how modeling them can add realism and bring your layout to life.

Bill Mosteller—Everything You Wanted to Know About Model Railroad Decals

Who makes them, where to find them, who does custom work.

Mat Thompson—Railroad Worthy Industries

This clinic considers workflow of manufacturing and processing plants to help model industries with the size and bulk that justifies rail traffic. The results can add realism to a layout and improve a layout's operations potential. Examples include kit-bashed and scratch-build industries also what parts of an industry are needed and not needed to suggest its size, industries which handle many cars with little infrastructure, and how adding special car handling requirements can increase an industries traffic load and modeling interest.

 John Teichmoeller—B&O Marine Operations on the Ohio River
This clinic presents results of research to date regarding the B&O's various marine operations between Parkersburg and Pittsburgh. It includes discussion of issues involving modeling "Western Rivers" style steamboats of particular relevance to modelers with West Virginia or Pennsylvania coal theme layouts.

Mike White—Making a More Prototypical Waybill

This clinic covers the development, construction, types, and uses of more prototypical model waybills on your layout. Information on the few materials needed, and sources of supply are provided. Extensive references are also made available.

Minicon Contest and Display Room

By Andrew Dodge

Achievement Program:

A sunny and almost perfect day notwithstanding, the Achievement Program judges had a great day evaluating two models, and a number of Potomac Division members enjoyed sharing the models they brought to display. The judges, Clint Hyde, who was needed most of the time in the White Elephant Room, Doug Kirkpatrick, Marty McGuirk, Martin Brechbiel, and myself all arrived by 8 AM or soon after in anticipation of seeing a wide range of models to review. Before getting down to business and after fulfilling our duties, the judges and other modelers who came to the basement room had a lively and wide ranging discussion about all aspects of model railroading from prototypes, building materials, and machining.

Although a number of anticipated models were not submitted for evaluation, the judges were treated to an unusual judging event in that we where to examine two models of the same building constructed from the same kit but with two different levels of craftsmanship. David Emery and Clint Hyde will be running a clinic at the Hagerstown MER Convention in the fall using these models as examples of what to do to be able to receive an Achievement Award in structures. David explained the upcoming program that is designed to engage more members:

The kit is an out-of-production Bar Mills kit for Zayante Shelter, on the South Pacific Coast railroad. Bar Mills has done a limited re-run of this kit for use in at the fall MER convention clinic. The goal is to enhance an inexpensive (laser cut) kit, with more detail, closer prototype conformance and high quality finish to enable attendees to achieve a Merit Award at the end of the two-day clinic in October. Over the last 6 months, Clint Hyde and David Emery have each built this kit multiple times, experimenting to find a set of techniques that will produce a high quality result in limited time with limited tools. Our best effort to date was submitted at the MiniCon, to see if the result would meet the criteria for a Merit Award. The model achieved a Merit Award, and the judges suggested additional items that would further enhance the structure's realism and better meet the NMRA judging criteria.

We encourage all model railroaders to take part in the Achievement Program and to not be put off by the paperwork. What is most needed in the papers and photographs submitted to the judges is for the modeler to replicate what is in the photographs and explaining all the things, big and little, you did to enhance your kit or scratch build model. Do not be shy about pointing out your work because the judges need those little extras to give you full credit for your efforts.

Display Models:

Models in HO and O scale were well represented at the Minicon. Stan Knots brought an HO model of an old time machine shop with all the belt driven tools. The interior was fully detailed and would be a great addition to a layout or display. In the car department, Ben Hom displayed four models of boxcars with detail sheets explaining his work on the equipment used by many railroads during the first half of the 20th century. Deane Mellander graced us with an HOn3 model of a Colorado Southern 2-6-0 Mogul. He explained that he had done a lot of extra detailing and modifications to the original model and converted it into a 2-6-2 Prairie.

In the O scale department, a modeler brought in a number of beautiful structures. The buildings included a depot, a shed, an oil tank, and a building dealing in dynamite. Some of the structures had well done sheet metal roofs while the station had a real wood shingle roof. Andrew Dodge also brought one of his scratch-built Colorado Midland engines based on ones built by Baldwin Locomotive Works in 1897. The engine, which includes only a few commercially cast parts, is one of three he built in Proto 48.

As a final note, I would encourage modelers to bring their work to show others, which also should encourage fellow modelers to ask more questions. Engaging in the exchange of ideas and information can be as good as any clinic. For those bringing models, please take a few moments and write a short description of the model with your name so people know who build what and who to ask if they have questions.

Photo Captions:

Group 1: (photos 1-7)

Ben Hom displayed four box cars in HO scale representing the steel sided cars commonly used on most Class 1 railroad during the 20th century. Included in his display were a number of information sheets on methods of improving the quality and appearance of the cars. He also provided information as to the commercial suppliers he relied upon for many of the alterations made to improve these standard type kits.

Group 2: (photos 8-15)

An O scale modeler brought several line side buildings he scratch-built or kit-bashed. His modeling skills are evident in his use of a variety of building materials using cast rocks, wood, metal sheet roofing, and plastic. While the station and Borland’s Best show more complex structures, the shed is particularly noteworthy because of its quality of assembly and weathering.

Group 3: (photos 16-19)

Andrew Dodge displayed one of his Colorado Midland Railway Proto 48 inch scale locomotive built to the exact specifications from the Baldwin archives and photographic records. The only commercial parts are the bell, whistle, cow catcher, headlight, coupler pockets, driver centers, and items in the cab. As constructed and painted, the Class 136 Consolidations were brand new in 1897 and display their piston extenders and planished boiler jackets commonly used in the late 19th century.

Group 4: (photos 20-22)

Stan Knot’s handy work in structures is clearly visible in this intricate model of a machine shop that OSH would cringe at seeing. Several type of lathes are displayed as well as a drill press and other accoutrements found in any good machine shop. Stan also included a model of a Mack truck used to deliver or pickup parts.

Group 5: (photos 23-24)

Deane Mellander displayed his modeling ability by showing all the work he did on an older model of a Colorado Southern HOn3 Mogul. If it were not enough to get one of these very small locomotives running with a motor in the cab instead of in the tender where so many of the early suppliers placed them, he also converted the locomotive into a Prairie with a single axle truck under the cab for better weight balance.

Group 6: (photos 25-27 and 48-53)

David Emery and Clint Hyde’s work on developing a teaching program for the fall 2014 MER illustrate different levels of work and detail utilizing the same model kit. Through the judging process and a review of the three different versions of the kit, several structural and modeling shortcomings are evident. Pointing these out during the clinic and how to fix them should make excellent teaching program. The attention to the prototype photograph and replicating the necessary building details make a simple kit into something much more.